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The Transformation Series: Interview With Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace

Continuing our series of interviews with leaders transforming the marketing insights space, today we have a deep interview with Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace

Few innovations have impacted the marketing insights realm as much as the growth of the community model. Every major industry tracking initiative has quantified this growth from an adoption standpoint, but all it really takes is looking at the innumerable companies that have emerged offering variation on the community approach and their financial success to understand that the market research online community (MROC) is here to stay. Much of that success can be traced back to the vision of today’s interviewee: Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace.

For sure there are many other players in this sector and more are emerging every day, but I suspect few would argue that within the insights space the earliest and most visible evangelist of the power of communities for insight generation was Diane, and of course Communispace emerged as the leader in the category. It’s a vibrant field with many different players innovating on the process, technology, and even purpose of the community, but the core idea of using an interactive online platform to engage with a defined population on an ongoing basis for insight generation was pioneered by Communispace.

This new interview series is focused on talking with transformative leaders: folks that have either had a profound impact through innovation that has impacted the industry as a whole and/or have led the efforts to transform their businesses from traditional business models to newer ones that embrace the changing insights paradigm.  Although Diane certainly falls into the first bucket, I think she also continues to transform Communispace by a relentless focus on using the community model as the means of answering the “why” of insights by incorporating a growing consulting practice via their acquisition of Promise and the consistent experimentation  with incorporating new technologies into the toolbox. Yes, I am a fan, and I was for many years before I ever actually met Diane.

For a peek at how Communispace & Promise are integrating their offerings to evolve the value of the community offering, check out their presentation at IIeX North America:

This may be a good time to remind everyone that I am no journalist, nor do I aspire to be. I do these interviews because I think others will find value in them, but also because I enjoy talking with smart folks that inspire me. I think of them as friendly chats that others get to eavesdrop on. There is no guide or detailed agenda; they are free flowing conversations informed by a general curiosity about the folks I’m talking with. More than any other interview I have posted here, the personal friendship between Diane and I shines through. She is immensely charismatic, warm, and positive and I always enjoy our talks, which will be evident here. Diane is a force of nature and that trait is fully on display! What I think will also be readily apparent is how she channeled those traits to build an extremely successful  business from scratch. Entrepreneurs come in many “shapes and sizes”, but what all have in common are vision, tenacity, perseverance and the ability to inspire others. Diane has those traits in droves, as you’ll see.

This is a longer than normal interview that was conducted via Skype. As usual there are a few minor glitches here and there but nothing that is disruptive. I’m continuing to look at other options to do these, but all web cam interviews are limited by the participant’s connection speed, and mine is not nearly as fast or stable as I would like. Sigh…

All in all this is an informative and yes, inspiring, discussion with a bold leader who has impacted our industry in profound ways. It’s worth taking the time to listen in.

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